Alibaba: The Front Line in the Battle Against Counterfeits?

The Initial Public Offering (IPO) of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has already been hailed the stock market listing of the year. In spite of its international success, the online marketplace remains one of the web’s biggest platforms for buying and selling counterfeit goods. How can Brand Owners work with Alibaba to tackle this threat and protect their Intellectual Property?

It’s no secret that some of the Alibaba companies have an issue with counterfeits. For example, some of NetNames’ clients estimate that up to 80% of listings on Taobao are fakes, presenting a vast challenge for Brand Owners. However, since initiating the IPO process, the Alibaba Group has been taking steps to make it easier for brands to protect their IP.

Greater Transparency

In the past two years, procedures have been put in place that allow brands to take action and have fake listings of their products removed from Alibaba websites. In addition, Alibaba has been partnering with organizations such as the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IAAC), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) to make it easier for members to notify any IP violations.

These are steps in the right direction, but if there were any changes to the enforcement procedures themselves, making it easier for Brand Owners, to find, prioritize, submit and process listings for enforcement actions, then that would represent a significant step forward. This journey can still be complex to navigate because:

  • There is no standard process - each Alibaba website has a different system for reporting infringements
  • Different information needs to be provided - Brand Owners will often be required to upload Chinese Trademark certificates
  • The submission process can sometime take days rather than hours to complete

Brand Owners therefore need to educate themselves on these processes and work very closely with brand protection specialists, such as NetNames, who have strong working relationships with Alibaba and local language and legal knowledge, in order to minimize the damage online counterfeits cause for customers, revenue and reputation.

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